By Myles Bridgewater-Jackson
Sports Information Student Assistant
WALLA WALLA, Wash. - The Lewis & Clark baseball team split its double-header against Whitman on Saturday to take the series two games to one, after the Pioneers defeated the Missionaries on Friday. Whitman won the opening contest of the twinbill 6-5, before the Pios won the night cap 7-4.
After a four run Lewis & Clark second, Whitman clawed their way back to tie the Pioneers in the seventh inning, before hitting a go-ahead RBI single in the bottom of the eighth to win the first game of Saturday's double header, 6-5.
After being set down in order in the top of the first inning, Lewis & Clark raged out the gates with three straight singles in the second to ignite a four run frame. With runners on first and third and nobody out, Tommy Massari smacked one to left field to drive in Michael Kinkenon and place EJ Hand in scoring position. Two batters later, Connor Eggleston crushed his first collegiate home run--a three-run blast--to push the Pio lead to 4-0. The freshman third baseman leads his team in RBIs, with 17 on the season.
Pioneer starter John Trupin worked four scoreless before the Missionaries began to mount their comeback. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Jackson DeStefano came to the plate with runners at second and third. DeStefano hit an RBI single to short, scoring John Lyon. A wild pitch from Trupin advanced the runners to scoring position, before a ground out to short, cut the Lewis & Clark lead in half.
Whitman inched closer in the bottom of the sixth, scoring their third run of the game on a fielder's choice.
Missionary starter, Will Thompson locked in after the four run second, and faced two over the minimum for the next four innings. In the seventh however, the Pioneers played some small ball and scored another insurance run. Tommy Massari and Sean Shepherd lead off the top of the inning with a pair of back-to-back base hits. A ground out by Eggleston advanced the runners to the left side of the infield before Ben Beck drove in Massari with his second hit of the game. Beck attempted to put some additional pressure on Whitman by swiping second, but was caught stealing for the second out of the inning. Thompson limited damage by inducing a ground out to short to end the inning.
Unfortunately, Lewis & Clark's two-run lead would not hold, as Whitman knotted the score in the home half of the seventh. A single, walk, and a pair of stolen bases set up a scoring chance for the Missionaries. Jonny Chow popped a sac fly to to left, plating Maclean Harned and pulling Whitman within one.
After walking the next batter John Trupin was pulled for Blake Howell, who came on in relief. Trupin ended the day with a no decision after pitching 6 ⅔ innings.
Howell's first batter faced, was shortstop Joseph Zimmer. Zimmer (2-3) continued his hot day at the plate and slapped his third hit through the right side, knotting the game at five.
Lewis & Clark threatened in the top of the eighth but failed to score. Eric Hyun singled down the left field line, and advanced on an error to second to lead off the inning. He took another base on a wild pitch, and stood a mere 90 feet from home with no outs. However, the next three batsmen failed to clear the ball from the infield, ending the inning fruitlessly.
Whitman was given an opportunity to take the lead in the eighth and cashed in on their shot. After retiring the first two batters of the inning, the Pioneers gave up two free bases on a hit by pitch and a walk. Pinch hitter Paul Heywood hit a single to center scoring the man on second and sending the runner from first, on his way home. However, the second runner was gunned down at the plate to end the inning.
The Pioneers were unable to answer Whitman's go ahead run in their last ups, and were set down in order in the top of the ninth, ending the game.
Alex Heimbrodt pitched his second time in as many days, this time a complete game, and was backed by seven Pioneer runs to earn his third win of the season in Saturday's series finale.
Lewis & Clark got the scoring started in the top of the second inning. The first two batters of the inning, Sean Shepherd and Connor Eggleston, each reached on a throwing error by the shortstop, and a walk, respectively. Two batters later, Ben Beck advanced the runners to second and third on a ground out. With two outs, EJ Hand stepped to the plate. EJ laced a single to right, driving in the pair of freshmen and giving the Pioneers an early 2-0 lead.
Eggleston lead off the fourth, reaching base safely once again. Two batters later, Beck saw a pitch he liked and belted it over the wall for his first home run in a Pioneer uniform. Hayden Higger and Bradley Lezak continued the inning with a single and a walk, and set up another run scoring opportunity, this time for Michael Kinkenon. Kinkenon drove in Higger on double down the left field line, pushing the score to 5-0.
After three shutout innings by Heimbrodt, the Whitman bats broke through in the bottom of the fourth. Heimbrodt quickly retired two batters, but with runners at first and second, Maclean Harned doubled in a run to cut the lead to four. A walk and a wild pitch scored another before two consecutive singles by Jonny Chow and Anthony Lim brought two more across the plate. Heimbrodt finally polished off the side, tying up Joseph Zimmer on a swinging strike.
Alex, unfazed by the four-run frame, returned in the fifth to retired the next three batters in order. The Pioneer starter commanded the mound the rest of the night, and pitched shutout ball the final five innings. Heimbrodt worked out of trouble well, stranding 12 Missionaries over his nine innings pitched.
The Pioneers collected two more insurance runs in the top of the eighth and pushed their lead to 7-4. EJ Hand smacked his second hit up the middle for a leadoff single and Lezak tripled him home on a ball hit to left center. Kinkenon accrued his third hit and second RBI of the day on a single through the left side, scoring Lezak.
Whitman threatened to score, placing three runners in scoring position in the final two innings, but could not capitalize on their opportunities.
The Pioneers will ride the series win into their final homestand of the season next weekend against George Fox. Game one of Saturday's doubleheader begins at noon, with the night cap scheduled for 3 p.m.